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The Un-Stressful Stress Test

05/12/2009

After all the stressful suspense, the “Stress Test” results were released last Thursday, and it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Still, there are two lingering issues. First, the assumptions were 10.3% unemployment, GDP dropping 3.3% in 2009 and rising 0.5% next year, and home prices falling another 27%. I’ll be surprised if unemployment doesn’t exceed 10.3% by the first quarter of next year. I suspect GDP growth will not be as good this year nor as bad next year. And, with record low home mortgage rates, it is hard to forecast another 27% drop in home prices. Overall, the government did a good job.

The second lingering issue is that the Stress Test only looked at nineteen banks, but what about the thousands of other banks, many of which are heavily exposed to local commercial real estate loans? Many analysts believe that is the next big shoe to fall.

As always, the things we know that we don’t know worry us the most!

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